Foxboro Rotary helps transform lives in Mexico Four students of an Interact club helped patients before eye surgeries at Guerrera clinic in Mexico earning the goodwill of poor suffering from a range of disorders mostly cataracts.
Recent Foxboro High School graduate Sofia Isaza never anticipated how much she and other volunteers might help isolated Mexican farmers see more clearly.
Nor did she expect to make the friendships she and three other Foxboro teens did while spending a week working with local Rotary Club members at an ophthalmology clinic high in the mountains.
“For me, it was a life-changing experience,” said Isaza, 18, who traveled to Mexico with fellow teens Katie Burke, Ellery Kraus and Caroline Rudd last week to volunteer at the Guerrera Surgery and Education Centre in Mexico’s Chihuahua state.
The clinic performs ophthalmic and other surgeries for indigent patients in the mountainous, rural area where people suffer increased risk for cataracts because of the elevation and bright sun.
The four students, all members of the Rotary’s Interact Club for high school students, were accompanied by Foxboro Rotary’s (Massachusetts, US — District 7950) Lewis Gordon and Karen Benz.
Isaza, who speaks Spanish, said it was rewarding helping to prepare young and old patients for desperately needed eye surgery.
But she didn’t expect the warmth and common interests she and the other teens shared with local people.
“We didn’t expect the amount of bonding we did,” she said. “The people there were so relatable. You think we’re so different, but we discovered we all had shared interests.”
Rudd, 18, said she was impressed by the pride and gratitude she sensed from the local people, mostly farmers and their families, who came to the clinic.
“People were just so grateful for everything we did and everything we could provide,” she said.
Because healthcare is less regulated in Mexico than in the US, students were able to take a more active role in patients’ treatment than they would otherwise, including performing eye exams and giving them eyedrops prior to surgery.
“We were able to really get involved and help the patients get ready for surgery,” said Burke, 17.
More than 300 people were treated during the three-day clinic staffed by volunteer doctors and aides, said Rotary’s Benz.
Elderly patients as well as some as young as two came for surgery or to be be fitted for eyeglasses.
In addition to helping patients prior to surgery, the Foxboro volunteers were also allowed to be present during surgery and observe operations through a microscope.
Patients came to the clinic with a variety of vision problems.
One man arrived with a badly damaged eye that was virtually useless due to a reduction in blood flow.
Doctors devised a strategy to save the eye and possibly restore limited vision. The results are pending.
A two year old girl was brought in by her mother with outdated glasses that did not allow her to see very well. The clinic fitted her with new ones.
“When she received her new glasses, her face lit up,” said Benz. “She could see clearly for the first time in a long time.”
Chaperones Benz and Gordon pitched in with Benz serving as the clinic’s traffic flow coordinator while Gordon was responsible for fitting patients for glasses and making the glasses themselves.
The local contingent was part of a group of 37 volunteers at the clinic that ranged from ophthalmic surgeons to student optometrists and Rotary and Interact Club volunteers from all over the country.
The trip wasn’t all work. Prior to their arrival at the clinic, the Foxboro group took a train ride to Mexico’s famous Copper Canyon and experienced the world’s longest zip line.
Gordon, on his third volunteer journey, said he was inspired by a similar experience he had as a college student.
He said the Foxboro teens performed admirably and returned knowing they had provided a humanitarian service.
“We’re proud of all of them,” he said.
Gordon said the clinic is continually looking for volunteers to help provide services to the poor.
He can be contacted by emailing Lew.email@example.com.
Source: The Foxboro Reporter